Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Reading, doing, watching #4.

Wow. I have had a busy two weeks. Apart from friends and family visiting, this is what I have:

  • Went to a felt making workshop where I made this.
  • Finished Unit 5 of the Complexity course, in which I learnt about genetic algorithms and made Robbie the Robot pick up empty soda cans. (Hey, I am saying "soda". Weird.) 
  • Discovered this AMAZING site through a user comment on the Complexity Course Forum. Coursera is a social entrepreneurship company that was founded by Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng. In partnership with universities across the world it allows free access to hundreds of MOOCs (Massive Open Online  Courses). This is a fantastic opportunity to learn from some of the best minds out there, even if you could never afford to attend these universities. Go and choose a course and continue learning. C'mon, you know you want to!
  • Tried to see the PANSTARRS comet. We should have been able to see it about two weeks ago, close to the horizon just after the sun sets, so we took a drive out to Scarborough, which is on the right side of the mountain. But, sadly, we looked and looked and looked, but we did not see a thing. Our twilight is possibly a bit too bright. I did take this picture though to prove that we did not see it ...

and this picture to show that Snous was not very impressed. "You fool!" she says. "Enough of this. Now give me my supper."

  • Seen this exhibition on typography, where I purchased a lovely, witty and pertinent work of art, which I will show you later this week.
  • The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood. I really enjoyed this one. I have read all Atwood's novels, apart from Oryx and Crake. (I was put off a bit by its post-apocalyptic, futuristic scenario.) Well, Year of the Flood is set in the same period, some of the same characters make an appearance, but somehow I found this book very different. (Maybe I was in the wrong space when I tried to read Oryx and Crake.) Year of the Flood is excellent - satirical, funny and disturbing, it describes a quite believable and (scarily) not-so-distant future.
  • The Casual Vacancy, by JK Rowling. This is her first adult novel, and I have to admit that I was not keen to start it. It is not that I did not like Harry Potter - I read one (and a half ), but I have always found the wizard/magic thing a bit boring. But I can really recommend this book. Extremely readable, excellent characterisation, a great story -  cynical old moi even shed a tear at the end. And there is not a wizard in sight.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Felt - a change of mind.

A week ago I attended a felting workshop with the ever-creative Rosemary Sellars, and made a rectangular piece of flat felt using some of her beautiful wool roving, shorn off the backs of little Irish sheep by Rosemary herself. Well okay, that last bit is not true, but I like the image.
Anyway, I cut it into three sections - my original intention was to make a book with 6 pages, but once I got home, I changed my mind (what's new?).  I stitched them back together to form a longish strip, then machine-stitched it with Mr Darning Foot to flatten it and give it some texture. 

So now I have a scarf - just long enough to go around my neck and cross over in front. I must still finish it off and add a button to fasten it.

BTW, I discovered the blog rosiepink, by Annie and Lyn, with some amazing and easy-to-follow-tutorials (look in the left margin) on felt making - flat felt, pods, covered pebbles, etc. Have fun!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Textures and Patterns #9.

Surface patterns on a large rock near our house. Beautiful in a wabi-sabi kind of way. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013


I have  always been fascinated by the ways rumours are created and spread, and how we, who have not been involved in the original incident or event, will with complete sincerity and conviction, retell a rumour as the absolute truth, in the process maybe adding an imagined detail or two. Here are two new dry point etchings I have finished over the past two weeks. I am planning a series of three - I am busy working on the last one.  I am copying existing vintage images, and placing them in the context of the creation and spreading of rumours.

Rumours I (drypoint etching).  Thanks to Svetlana for providing me with the text for this one.

Rumours II (dry point etching). I have taken a particular rumour found on the Internet, and calculated its information content using Shannon's formula.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A tribute to Blossfeldt.

I finally finished this book. I constructed the book in a workshop a few years ago, then painted the pages, and finally selected ten of the photographs in the Taschen book to draw. The text is from the same publication.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Reading, doing, watching #3.

Read these books:

  • Stephanie Lacava's An Extraordinary Theory of Objects - A Memoir of an Outsider in Paris

A disappointment, unfortunately. The title really appealed to me and promised all kinds of wonders, a true cabinet of curiosities, but in the end it did not deliver. The objects chosen seemed random - and although the notes on each are interesting, it comes off as a gimmick to make the book appear to be more than it is - a rather boring story of one teenager's angst and feelings of rejection and dejection. I kept waiting for it to turn into something, but it didn't. Nice illustrations by Matthew Nelson though. I painted this one to make up for my disappointment.

  • The Oxford Murders - a well-written and very enjoyable murder mystery by Argentine writer Guillermo Martinez. He has a Ph.D. in Mathematics, which makes the book (his first) a little more interesting  than the usual The-Butler-Did-It story. Godel's Incompleteness Theorem, the Pythagorean Brotherhood, Wittgenstein's Finite Rule paradox and Fermat's Last Theorem get discussed. Even Andrew Wiles, who finally published a proof for Fermat's Last Theorem in 1995, appears in the book. In fact, I thought he was simply a character, until I googled him!

  • By Hand - The Use of Craft in Contemporary Art edited by Shu Hung and Joseph Magliaro - lists and briefly discusses over 30 artists and how they use craft techniques in creating their art. Totally my kind of thing.

Watched this:
  • The second series of the excellent Danish political drama series Borgen. (Danish with English sub-titles). Snous is thinking of emigrating to Denmark. Nyborg for Prime Minister!
  • Walked to the end of our road yesterday to watch the Argus cyclists whizz by. The largest individually timed cycling event in the world, this year the Argus Cycle Tour attracted over 30,000 cyclists.

  • Finished the drawings and writing for my triangular book on Karl Blossfeldt (eventually!) - will show it later this week.
  • Attended a paper making workshop with Colleen Ross.
  • And started printing The Games We Play series.
  • Caught up with the Complex Systems course. Last week I did the unit on fractals, and over the weekend I started the unit on Information, Order and Randomness, and met Maxwell's Demon - that cheeky little devil. I have watched all the (available) videos and done all my homework. Yippee, now I can go out and play ...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Nectarine and rocket salad.

I designed, made and ate this salad yesterday, and I have to say that it was really yummy.

Nectarine (chopped), rocket leaves, butter beans (rinsed), raw cashew nuts and shavings of parmigiano reggiano. Drizzle with a vinaigrette.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Games We Play (cont.).

This is the last etching in the series - Sprout. For the rules, see here.

I have also started printing the others on proper (beautiful!) etching paper. Here is the Battleships one. Must still number and sign it ...
I have already started with a new series, called Rumour. I have done a test print of the first one, but then decided to add some dotted lines and arrows. What can I say -  I love numbers, graphs, dotted lines and arrows. I am a bit weird that way. Can't wait to show you when it is done - next week I hope!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


When I was a little girl of about 7, I had this dream of making my own paper. I had read about the history of paper and in particular of papyrus, and I remember sitting in the back yard dismally pounding some leaves with a stone in the hope that somehow it would be magically transformed into a sheet of paper. It was a depressing experience. A year or two later I read a description of making hand made paper, probably in an encyclopaedia, or perhaps in my Dad's old Reader's Digest DIY manual. I remember seeing the picture of the deckle and the vat of pulp and a press for flattening the paper and realising that this was definitely beyond my capabilities. So I shelved my dream.
Yesterday, 45 years later, I made my first sheets of paper in a workshop with Colleen Ross. I made a simple basic deckle using two wooden photo frames with a piece of netting stapled on. I had torn my pieces of paper and soaked them the day before the workshop. (See the link for photos of the process). Once home the cotton sheets with paper on them were still somewhat damp, so I used my clothes drying rack to dry them.

When dry, they peel off quite easily.

In this batch I added ink with a dropper (1 and 3) and a spray (2).

Here I added scraps of Indian paper (1 and 3) and coffee (2).

Adding dried plant material (1 and 3) and raffia (2).
And what did I use to make the pulp? Leftover photocopies from the Nightmare Editing Project, of course!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Life without Lipstick.

"What is life without lipstick?" she mused.
"Indeed," said Birdie, "it certainly adds a little glamour to life."
"Do you make yours of crushed beetles, like Cleopatra did?" she asked.
"Oh, please! That is so B.C." replied Birdie. "Chanel is absolutely the only way to go."